Christmas travel plans have been disrupted for thousands of people as heavy rain continues to batter the south of England.
From Cornwall to Essex, communities across the south of England woke on Saturday to find little respite from the heavy rain, with flooded fields and some roads rendered completely impassable.
The Met Office have a yellow weather warning in place across swathes of the south of England, warning of the possibility of some homes and businesses being flooded, roads blocked, and public transport affected.
Some parts of the UK saw almost two inches of rain fall in just 36 hours earlier this week.
A further 30mm of rain is forecast in certain areas before the warning period ends at 9am on Sunday.
Planning to travel today or maybe heading out #Christmas shopping? Whilst there are showers and sunny spells for most, it’s going to turn very wet in the south ?️#WeatherAware⚠️ pic.twitter.com/dnkQR7VQg4
— Met Office (@metoffice) December 21, 2019
Met Office meteorologist Alex Deakin said: “Because it’s been so very wet across the south this extra rain falling onto saturated ground could cause some further problems, so there is a weather warning in force scooting along southern counties during Saturday evening.”
He added the rain was coming from a “fairly angry weather system” which will also bring some “very strong winds”.
Some 101 flood warnings – where flooding is expected – are in place for England, alongside 256 flood alerts, which warn flooding is possible.
On Friday, adverse weather led to the part-closure of the M23 motorway while several rail lines were blocked.
Sussex Police described driving conditions in the region as “miserable”, and said there was “a lot of standing water on the roads”.
There are currently some flood warnings in place. Please stay safe and avoid driving through flood water.
— Environment Agency (@EnvAgency) December 21, 2019
Devon and Cornwall Police said flooding across the force area made “a number of roads impassable” and it urged motorists to take extra care and avoid driving into standing water.
Highways England has urged motorists to adapt their driving for wet weather by slowing down, keeping well back from the vehicle in front and easing off the accelerator if steering becomes unresponsive.
John Halsall, managing director of Network Rail’s southern region, said the combination of one of the wettest autumns since records began with a month’s worth of rainfall in the past five days has put the rail network “under enormous pressure”.
Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express services were affected after rail lines were flooded.
An RAC survey suggested 4.7 million leisure trips by car would be taken on Friday, as many people embarked on the Christmas getaway.
⚠️ Yellow Weather Warning ⚠️
Further heavy rain and showers across southern England may lead to some flooding and travel disruption
Saturday 0000 – Sunday 1200
— Met Office (@metoffice) December 20, 2019
As for the Christmas week ahead, temperatures are expected to drop – with some rain expected in parts of the country too.
Chief meteorologist at the Met Office, Dan Suri, said: “For Christmas week there are signs of a quieter spell of weather and slightly colder temperatures for many, though some parts of the UK can still expect some unsettled weather on Monday or Tuesday.”